Reference Library – Scotland – Stirlingshire

Prometheus in Aspic: ECW

Further to an earlier post1 on this subject, I am hoping to get a lot more free time at home, beginning within the next week or so, so am planning to stage the aforementioned ECW battle on 16th or 17th Feb – if it seems odd to make the planning so formal, I can only say that if I write the date in the diary now then it is probably going to take place!

The intention is to fight the Battle of Boldon Hill (also known as Hylton), which took place on 24th March 1644 a few miles west of Sunderland. My guest opponent for the evening, David, is a man from this area (he has an uncle who lives in Cleadon – see map!), which is why I chose this particular battle. Since David is new to wargaming, we’ll use a very simple set of rules – probably the C&CN-derived set, but using a dice-based activation system instead of the cards. The actual historical action was rather odd – the armies were of about the same size, and the hedged enclosures surrounding a couple of the villages made the terrain difficult for the Royalist Horse, so no fighting took place until around 5pm, by which time, in March in Northumberland, the light must have been fading fast. Combat was restricted to the Foot of both sides, though some Scots dragoons were involved, and the firefight lasted until late in the night. There were moderate losses on both sides, and the Royalists withdrew towards Durham, their cavalry protecting their retreat. The real battle, then, might be regarded as indecisive, but it was one of a series of episodes in this campaign in which the Royalists progressively lost advantage of position and initiative – the forces were probably pretty evenly matched, but the Marquis of Newcastle was repeatedly outmanoeuvred by Lord Leven. I have assembled an OOB from a variety of sources – mostly secondary. Unusually, the Royalist side has the sketchier recorded history in this campaign.

What follows is partly established fact, partly an educated guess based on who was in the area. For example, the exact nature of the force which Lumsden detached from the besieging force at Newcastle in order to reinforce Leven’s field army is not known.

Boldon Hill 24th March 1644 Army of the Solemn League & Covenant (Lord General Alexander Leslie, Lord Leven) Horse (Maj.Gen David Leslie) approx 1600 Lord Kirkcubright s RoH (Lt.Col James Mercer of Aldie) Earl of Leven s RoH (Lt.Col James Ballantyne) Maj-Gen David Leslie s RoH (Lt.Col Sir John Brown) Col. Hew Fraser s Dragoons (Maj. John Munro) Foot (Maj.Gen Sir James Lumsden) approx 5200 Sir Alexander Hamilton s RoF Clydesdale (Lt.Col Wm Carmichael) Earl of Loudoun s RoF Glasgow (Lt.Col Robt Home) Earl of Lindsay s RoF Fife (Lt.Col Thos Moffat) Lord Livingston s RoF Stirlingshire (Lt.Col Andrew Bruce) Earl of Lothian s RoF Teviotdale (Lt.Col Patrick Leslie) Master of Yester s RoF Linlithgow & Tweeddale (Lt.Col Wm Johnston) Earl of Buccleuch s RoF Tweeddale (Lt.Col Walter Scott) Earl of Cassillis RoF Kyle & Carrick (Lt.Col John Kennedy) 1 heavy gun, 2 light, 1 frame Army of King Charles (Wm Cavendish, Marquis of Newcastle) Horse (Sir Chas Lucas) approx 2000 Lord Mansfield s RoH (Lt.Col Sir Francis Wortley) Sir Richard Tempest s RoH Durham (Lt.Col Sir Francis Liddell) Sir Edward Widdrington s RoH Northumberland (Lt.Col Henry Constable) Sir William Widdrington s RoH Northumberland (Lt.Col John Thornton) Col. Francis Stuart s RoH Northumberland (Maj. Nicolas Burnet) Foot (Lord Eythin) approx 4300 Marquis of Newcastle s RoF (Lt.Col Sir Arthur Basset) Col. Charles Brandling s RoF Northumberland (Lt.Col Robt Brandling) Sir Wm Lambton s RoF Durham (Lt.Col Henry Lambton) Col. John Hylton s RoF Durham (Lt.Col Lynsley Wren) Col. John Lamplugh s RoF Cumberland (Maj.

Christopher Dudley) Durham Trained Band (Maj.

Arthur Swindells) Commanded Shot (Maj.

Wm Wray)


  1. ^ earlier post (